Wind of change
The last two months have been a blur. We started to get fat in Cambodia from all the rice so we sold the motorbikes and went to Kuala Lumpur for a weekend to get culture-shocked by civilisation and went on to Turkey (Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir) where we got mesmerised by the massive deep hanging circles of chandeliers and the intricate patterns inside the mosques, ate our way through piles and piles of turkish delight, baklava and other stomach-blowing local delicacies at the Spice Markets and cuddled uncounted street dogs and cats. We experienced how tough it can be just to get from A to B when nobody speaks even the tiniest bit of English. (And how much you can still understand from body language once you get over the shock of not understanding a word.)
On one of my just-get-lost-and-see-what-I-find walks in Bursa I got followed by a guy on a scooter and escaped through back alleys, finding my way back to our apartment just with a rough sense of directions.
We moved on to Germany for a quick visit to my parents and my friends but the vibes (and the weather) there killed my mood soon enough and we continued to crazy Amsterdam where distinct smells linger in the streets. Condomeries next to cheese shops next to the famous coffee shops and red light windows next to displays of irresistibly diabetes inducing waffles. And pushbike riders aggressively shoving you out of their way should you overlook their special lane on the walkway.
After just a few days I flew to Madrid to meet up with a guy that'd give me a lift to the Boom festival in Portugal. We got along really well and he happened to be with a group of amazing people that I'd spend the whole festival with. I couldn't have met a better tribe for this solo plunge and my first festival experience ever! We explored Madrid for an evening and drove to Portugal the next day, hitting the queue in the evening more than 20km outside the gates and spent the night on the road. We marvelled at the stars, slept on the asphalt between the cars and got woken up by a very unfriendly police every few hours to move on a few meters. The anticipation in the air turned this into a fun experience and 15 hours later we were in!
The next seven days were nothing short of amazing. Over 30.000 hippie souls created an absolutely magical atmosphere of love and connectedness. It was impossible to explore all the artwork, stages, workshops, installations, stalls, hidden shrines and gardens of the vast area. I spent a lot of time chilling in the shade next to the lake with the tribe, visiting meditation and very hippie let's-hug-strangers workshops or having mind-boggling conversations. Living with the basics, camping, bathing in the lake, wearing as much or little clothing as I wanted and generally being so close to nature all the time just felt fantastic. Oh, and I got a really nice tan.
After this dreamlike week I suddenly had to track Corey to Peru. Just a little over 24 hours after leaving hot and sunny Boom I found myself in the chilly Andes, almost always covered with low hanging foggy clouds this time of the year. Lima felt quite overwhelming with slums that somehow looked worse than what I've seen in Cambodia, dodgy little busses in the hectic streets, bursting with passengers and vehicles that looked like they'd fall apart any minute. I enjoyed tasting the fresh seaside air of Miraflores where the ocean breaks onto a small black beach in front of plasticky looking cliffs and seamlessly meets the clouds at the horizon. I loved the cat park in front of our hostel where we used to go for a second breakfast, were within minutes alley cats would come up cuddling and have a nap on our laps. Somehow Lima felt like a mix of places I had been at before: a beautiful waterfront that reminded me of Darwin's esplanade, pettable street cats and dogs like in Turkey, rough edges and street vendors that I loved in Phnom Penh and an resigned expression on peoples faces that felt a lot like Germany. I still don't quite know what to make of this mix. One time a Peruvian guy literally jumped at me to try and kiss me after a short conversation.
Good thing that Peru is one of the most diverse countries so Lima certainly doesn't represent it all. We soon went to Iquitos in the Amazon jungle. It's the largest city in the world that's not accessible by road and has seen some periods of wealth so now it's a rugged low-key but charming jungle city with beautifully crumbling buildings. Back in the tropics and literally next to the Amazon I felt better and two days later already we went by boat deeper into the jungle to meet mother Ayahuasca.